If you get accused of or arrested for theft in Washington State, you could face up to 10 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $20,000. You need to know what Washington’s laws on misdemeanor petty theft and felony theft say about these three things:
- The definition of theft in Washington
- The degrees of a misdemeanor and felony theft in our state
- The civil and criminal penalties for misdemeanor and felony theft
A conviction for theft could ruin your future and impact your family. A Seattle criminal defense attorney can fight aggressively to build your defense and help get you the best outcome possible.
What Constitutes Felony and Misdemeanor Theft in Washington State
Our state statutes define any degree of theft as wrongfully and intentionally depriving someone of their property or services by taking or controlling those items. RCW 9A.56.020 also says that using deception to take the property or services of another is theft. Keeping lost or misdelivered property can be theft.
The value of the item allegedly taken is what makes the criminal charge a more or less serious offense. We have three degrees of theft in Washington:
- Theft in the first degree, RCW 9A.56.030. This Class B felony includes illegally taking property or services with a value over $5,000 or taking property from someone’s person, an on-duty search and rescue dog, or certain metal property with a value over $5,000.
- Theft in the second degree, RCW 9A.56.040. This offense is a Class C felony. Theft in the second degree can include illegally taking a motor vehicle, a firearm, certain public records, particular metals, an access device, or property or services with a value between $750 and $5000.
- Theft in the third degree, RCW 9A.56.050. This charge is a gross misdemeanor. Theft in the third degree involves committing theft of property or services with a value of up to $750 or ten or more merchandise pallets, beverage crates, or a combination of those items.
Your lawyer can explore whether you have valid defenses to these charges.
Criminal Penalties for Theft
RCW 9A.20.021 lays out the maximum criminal penalties for felonies and misdemeanors in our state. Class B felonies like Theft in the first degree can carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in a state correctional institution, a fine of up to $20,000, or both confinement and a fine.
Class C felonies like Theft in the second degree can carry a maximum sentence of five years in a state correctional institution, a fine of up to $10,000, or both confinement and a fine. Gross misdemeanors like Theft in the third degree can carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.
Special Penalties for Shoplifting in Washington
A conviction for shoplifting in our state can subject a person to civil as well as criminal penalties. If a minor shoplifts, the parent or legal guardian could have to pay the store:
- The value of the item taken, up to $2,850,
- The store owner’s legal fees and court costs, up to a reasonable amount, and
- A fine that can range between $100 and $650.
The maximum amount the store can recover for the value of the item taken is $1,425 if the minor’s parent or legal guardian assumes liability, RCW 4.24.230.
A Seattle criminal defense attorney can protect your legal rights and advocate for you. Contact Jennifer today.
DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on criminal law matters. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.